Birth in Frederick County 2019 – State of the Co. & Listening Tour

On January 19, The Birthing Circle presented all publicly available data on birth in Frederick County to a room of families and birth advocates. We reviewed the Frederick County Health Needs Assessment from 2019, the Maryland Healthcare Quality Report, and small scale studies from our own Doula Project.

Very quickly, we realized that while we had a few data points, there were so many data points that we did not have. We discussed the many other areas where we would like data, such as having provider-specific stats, if a doula was present at the birth, family structure, birthing person’s age and sexual orientation, if the birth was traumatic, postpartum complications, labor complications, breastfeeding rates, and more.

We worked to identify both strengths, and weaknesses in Frederick County. We have a very rich out of hospital (OOH) birthing community here; we have nonprofit supports, many doulas, hospital based midwives, VBAC access, and a County Health Department perinatal home visiting program. We’ve got a very strong community that mobilizes to support each other, and policy recommendations. Our hospital has a lower cesarean rate than the state average as well!

Alongside those strengths, we do still have some weak areas in how our OOH and Hospital systems are integrated. We have very few psychiatrists who specialize in perinatal mental health, and fewer who have experience prescribing to breastfeeding parents. We still see birthing people being drug tested without their consent or knowing it’s happening (hint- it’s being done at every hospital intake. If you birthed in the last 2 years, you were drug tested. Also, this goes directly against Maryland law). We don’t have guaranteed paid family leave, and we have zero locally based midwives of color. We don’t yet have insurance reimbursement for doula support, and we need more public transportation, especially outside of the city limits.

Then, our group discussed what we would like to see improve, and where we recommend the focus be for TBC and local agencies over the next year. At TBC, we will be providing more of these listening tours, more childbirth education classes, and continuing our general education during our monthly support meetings. We will be printing and distributing materials on local resources and support for perinatal mental health (see below graphics!), and will work hard to continue to expand our outreach programs. We will also continue supporting our Doula Project, and educating all on the importance of Trauma Informed Care.

It was requested that other agencies be given more education on breastfeeding. We identified that there is a massive need for more county and state level data and transparency of outcomes. We need accountability for when providers abuse their patients or provide poor care or malpractice. We need fewer barriers to midwifery licensure in order to ensure that midwives are indeed an option for as many families as possible. We also discussed a need for more small business provisions of family leave.

For our next steps, we want to expand our own data collection and listening tour. We are launching a Community Needs Assessment for birthing families in Frederick County, and we need your help! Please check it out below, fill it out, and share with a friend. We can’t know what to fix until we can see what’s happening- Please see below!

“The Birthing Circle is gathering feedback from residents of Frederick County, and those who have or will birth in Frederick County. This information will be compiled into an analysis that will be presented to our TBC Board, as well as local providers, policymakers, and legislators. All names will be kept confidential.

This is the first in a series of surveys to capture as many stories, experiences, and data on our birthing community as we can. There are very few other places capturing this information, but we believe that knowing the full picture of our county is critical for being able to suggest improvements or create change. Please share this link with as many people as you can!

If you have had multiple births in FC, you may complete this survey using one answer for all births (if they were generally the same), or you may complete the form a second time, etc. for each birth. (This is not a requirement)”

Many thanks to the Frederick News Post for covering our event! Article link HERE.

Credit to Jo Mahaney for the wonderful photos!

And thank you to Kimba Green and for Sponsoring our event location!

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